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Durban - If the EFF has its way, clinics will be open 24 hours a day and seven days a week throughout the country.

The party has now proposed in Parliament that a new law be enacted to ensure that clinics stay open day and night.

This emerged after Parliament published a notice inviting members of the public to make written comments on a draft bill proposed by EFF MP Susan Thembekwayo to amend the National Health Act.

“The draft bill will provide for all clinics to operate and provide healthcare services 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” the notice read.

The proposed legislation comes against the backdrop of the pending introduction of the National Health Insurance Bill, which is driven by the national Health Department.

It also comes at a time when Parliament is already racing against the clock to process and finalise several prioritised bills before the 2019 general elections.

Yesterday, Thembekwayo would not be drawn into commenting on her proposed bill.

She said she needed to first go through her documents and also speak to her party on the matter.

An explanatory summary of the proposed bill says healthcare challenges are not limited to specific time periods, and could affect a person at any time of the day or night.

“Millions of South Africans are denied their right to have access to healthcare services as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, because an insufficient number of healthcare facilities are open after hours, thus denying these South Africans access to ­healthcare facilities should they fall sick or get injured ­after hours.”

It also said people lived far from hospitals and were unable to access healthcare establishments all the time.

“Clinics are in most instances the most effective health establishment to access,” the bill reads.

Interested parties and institutions can submit written submissions until June 25.

Neither the Health Department nor the portfolio committee were aware of the draft bill.

Committee chairperson Lindelwa Dunjwa said she could not say whether they would process the proposed bill before Parliament’s term expired in May next year.

“There is a committee that deals with the issue of bills.” Until it has followed up on the submission of this bill, it is only then that the portfolio committee will see if it can be attended to, Dunjwa said.

Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said he was aware of only the National Health Insurance Bill that was recently submitted to cabinet.

Mohale said the NHI bill provided for establishment of the NHI Fund, which would provide for universal access to health services.

“The bill provides a framework for the purchasing of healthcare services by the fund on behalf of users and creates mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient use of the resources of the fund to meet the health needs of users.”

He said Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi would hold a media briefing to explain the NHI bill.

Daily News